I suppose I must be mellowing in my old age. The other day some woman went off at me for letting a door close on her, though she was ten feet from it and I had no idea she was even going into the same store, and instead of going full bitch back, like I would have a few years ago, by telling her I didn’t need a lesson in manners from a crack addict Cretan like herself, I apologized. She kept it up, mumbling and cursing and glaring through beady, narrowed eyes, until I said, “You are not listening. I sincerely apologize for not noticing you there. I hate it when people do that to me, and I truly did not mean to slight you.”
The muttering dropped an octave and faltered somewhat, then, though she struggled to maintain maximum nastiness, her eyes widened and she backed away. This unpleasant person, intent on drama and nasty confrontation was befuddled, shocked even, and left completely at a loss as to what to do next. “What is happening?” You could almost see her reptilian brain trying to access some reference to this alien behavior. “How will I scratch and claw and maintain feeling terrible all day if someone is going to be nice about it?” She was foiled.
When I got up to the counter, the salesgirl apologized for the woman, telling me that that particular customer was always very unpleasant. I nodded, it was obvious that she lived in the not so far away land of toxicity and, whether because she had been innocently hurled into that particular pit or leapt in herself and piled sewage on her own head, it was always unpleasant there. She never expected anything else. For her, that was it.
I winked, “Yep, it freaks people out if they are looking for a fight and you are sincere and pleasant. They have no information on how to behave in that situation.”
Because, it’s easier to demand an apology that to accept one. It’s easier to be brash than graceful. It’s simpler to raise our voice than to speak softly enough that we can be heard. And oh, isn’t it so much more like us to complain that to be grateful.
So let’s get to complaining because that brings me to my latest gripe and I am in no mood to be polite about this crap. I call it, ‘The qualifier.’ You know what I’m talking about. The compliment that is given with an immediate take away. “You’re very smart,” sounds nice, until the sentence is completed with, “for a girl.” Suggesting, not just a lessening of your worth or talent, but an overall insult to all women, the suggestion that because I have a vagina, I cannot ever equal the IQ of a penis holder.
I heard that all my life. There was also, “You’re funny,” said with surprise because… wait for it… “pretty people aren’t funny.” So only pimple-faced, fat kids can develop a sense of humor as a defense mechanism? No one ‘pretty’ could ever have had a painful childhood, or any trauma or loss, or even just have been born quick-witted. And is there some kind of limit on how many qualities a person can have? We’ve all been force-fed these stupid stereotypes. If you’re a good athlete you can’t be smart. If you have a mathematical brain you can’t be artistic. And on and on. Nothing fucked up to see here, folks! Move along!
I was taught to drive by a professional race car driver named Jack. One day after we’d been out practicing emergency techniques, i.e. correcting slides, using acceleration to avoid impacts, that kind of thing, we met my then husband at a friends house. My ex asked him, “How did it go?” Jack answered, “She drives good.” Ex smirked and added, “You mean for a girl.” Jack’s eyes glinted and without blinking he said, “No. She drives good.”
I still like that guy.
But now I have a new despised qualifier. And I doubt there is a woman over forty who won’t relate to it. If you are an aging woman, you probably already know what I’m going to say. Brace yourself, here it is.
“You look great!” beat beat beat, “…for your age.”
Oh, fuck you! Either you like the way I look, or you don’t. Frankly, I don’t really care. I’m a sixty-year-old woman who has lived my life in rain and wind and on adventures, I look like a sixty-year-old woman, because I am. Why the fuck would I want to look like a twenty-year-old woman and why would you think I would want to? Telling me that you think I would look better if I was younger tells me all about you, but it says very little about me.
I like how I look now, love the glow on my face that comes of contentment. I bask in the love in my husband’s eyes when I haven’t even looked in a mirror for days. I am freaking awesome!! Awesome with my frizzy hair and my descending jowls. I have no interest in applying coverup with a spackle knife or styling my hair with products bought by the barrel. I am aging and I am delighted with how it’s going. So are the thousands of women in my age group and older who have made themselves into what they want to be, not what you think they should be. Screw that, oh, and by the way, for you guys who think you can go on social media and criticize any woman who posts a picture of herself- let’s see you naked. How flat is your stomach? How much hair is left on your head? You want to criticize a woman for not being a size six or for aging naturally? Bite me.
Guess what happens when you ask a guy to post a picture of themselves in that same pose so that we can all get a chance to critique his ass? They disappear like vapor over Texas asphalt.
And if you are woman criticizing other women, well, I don’t even know what to do with you. Though that sewage pit might be a good place to put you. On second thought, if you are woman who has to criticize other women for their looks, you’re already there. That’s it for you.
So stop checking yourself in the mirror and start using those fabulous eyes to look out at the world with the wonder and joy it deserves. You are enough.
You are everything.
You’ve got it all
From the inside out.
Shari, July 16th, 2021